Why Two-Factor Authentication is a Must-Have
In recent years, there has been a major surge in the number of organizations that have lost their consumers' personal data. 2021 was one of the most costly years to date for businesses.
As cybercrime becomes more advanced, businesses are discovering that their outdated security measures are no match for emerging threats and assaults.
And it’s not only users' trust and privacy in jeopardy. Global corporations, small enterprises, and even non-profits can all incur serious reputational and financial losses.
Cyber-attacks or data theft can be disastrous for individuals too. For example, one of the most common and most damaging is stolen identities being used to get counterfeit credit cards.
One effective way to protect yourself from cyber-crime is by the use of 2FA (two-factor authentication).
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
2FA is a way of verifying a user's online identity by combining two separate verification methods. A password is normally used as one factor, which is then followed by another verification method to enhance safety and security when logging into a device or account.
A good example is digital authenticators, such as Google Authenticator. These are commonly used after logging into sensitive accounts using a password. Then, you open up your authenticator and copy-paste a code that changes every 30 seconds or so.
Why Do We Need Two-Factor Authentication?
With so many of our interactions taking place on mobile devices, social media, laptops, and workstations, it's important that you do everything possible to improve the security of your online accounts—especially financial accounts where hackers can do the most damage.
2FA provides an extra layer of protection to help ensure that anyone attempting to access an account online is, in fact, who they claim to be.
As you can probably remember, a huge amount of email credentials leaked from a variety of websites, including Hotmail and other prominent hosts. If this were to happen again but you had 2FA set up for your accounts, the hackers wouldn’t be able to gain access with just your password.
In order to successfully get into your account, they’d need access to your second authentication method as well, which is typically through your smart phone in one way or another. Obviously, that isn’t possible remotely, so you’d be able to breathe easy.
Types of Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication can be categorized into one of three types:
- Knowledge factors or something the user knows - Email addresses, PIN codes, passwords, and answers to security questions are some examples.
- Possession factors or something the user owns - These are the tangible objects that a user usually has in their possession, like a smartphone, laptop, iPad, desktop computer, and so on.
- Inherence factors or something the user has - These usually include some form of biometrics like a fingerprint sensor or a face scanner.
Are There Any Downsides to 2FA?
Like most forms of modern technology, even two-factor authentication is not perfect and does have its disadvantages. Some downsides are:
- Longer login time - Two-factor authentication requires users to go through another layer of security when logging in, which takes more time.
- Third-party integration - Two-factor authentication is typically reliant on third-party services or devices, such as a service provider sending verification numbers through text messages. This creates a problem since the organization has no way of regulating these external services if they fail.
- Maintenance - In the absence of an effective means of maintaining a user database and numerous authentication mechanisms, constant and regular maintenance of a two-factor authentication system can be a hassle.
2FA might be a pain in the neck, but it’s necessary if you want your accounts to be as secure as possible. It’s definitely worth it to have the peace of mind that you’re adequately protected at all times from cyber-crime.